Steven Del Duca may mean well, but needs to do some homework if he wants to be taken seriously.

Yesterday, Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca promised to reduce all transit fares in Ontario to $1 until January 2024. Local 113 is always happy to see transit service be an important issue. Unfortunately, this is not a serious policy proposal. It is a cheap gimmick by someone who should know better. He was, after all, Kathleen Wynne’s Minister of Transportation.

This proposal, however, is just an election stunt. Here’s why:

  • It fails existing riders. This plan is targeting suburban commuters and will do nothing to improve service or reduce crowding on TTC today.
  • It fails at basic math. They say it will cost $700M-$1.1B But TTC alone would need $600M of new subsidy. And that’s before expanding service for all the new riders. And other transit agencies need much bigger subsidies.
  • It’s unfair to local trips. GO riders could get $10-15 a ride subsidy. Which means that working people in sustainable urban neighbourhoods get far less advantage than wealthy commuters is exurban sprawl.
  • It is sudden and temporary – which may cause long-term damage. Transit systems will have to expand service to meet demand. When the subsidy expires municipalities will either be stuck with the cost or have to shrink their networks and park all the new vehicles.

Transit is far too serious an issue to be used to score cheap political points. The only way to build a transit network is through dedicated, long-term operational funding.